Now is the Time Unlock Growth Opportunities in the Middle East

The MENA economies, which posted growth in 2009 despite the global crisis, hold significant untapped opportunities for confident investors, say leaders of the region's leading private equity firm

Ahmed Heikal, Chairman and Founder of Citadel Capital, the leading private equity firm in the Middle East and North Africa with US$ 8.3 billion in investments under control, told SuperReturn Middle East in Dubai that compelling conditions across the region dictate that, “Now is the time to invest.”

“By almost any measure Middle East and North African economies have fared better than most over the past year,” Heikal said in a keynote speech on 12 October. “Indeed, the crisis now presents significant opportunities for private equity firms with the skill and capital to pursue them. With a remarkable confluence of distressed assets, distressed sellers and governments with over-stretched balance sheets, Citadel Capital believes there are outstanding vintage years for private equity investors ahead.”

“There are caveats, of course,” Heikal continued. “Among them is the fact that the investments to come will not be the ‘traditional’ large acquisitions of the type private equity had been making prior to the crisis. Instead, it will involve packaging grand ideas into modular investments.”

“The region has moved from skepticism about private equity to understanding the asset class as a powerful source of capital,” noted Hisham El-Khazindar, Citadel Capital’s Managing Director and Co-Founder. “The industry will be a prominent channel of capital and expertise to cash-strapped companies, working with banks, investors and development and export agencies to help grow increasingly diverse economies.”

Citadel Capital builds sustainable, industry-focused platform investments that are rooted in the region’s solid fundamentals and competitive advantages. The firm has raised 17 Opportunity-Specific Funds (OSFs) that control Platform Companies in 12 countries. Citadel Capital presently invests in 14 industries, including energy, cement, specialty real estate, mining, agribusiness, glass manufacturing, transportation and metallurgy.

“The coming period will demand flexibility, control investing and strong on-the-ground presence,” added El-Khazindar, who headlined the conference panel ‘Positioning for Post Recovery Investment.’ “Success in the next few years comes down to working out the details at the portfolio level — including business plans, well-funded balance sheets and strong management teams — as private equity builds businesses for which others will pay a premium.”

Citadel Capital, which has generated more than US$ 2.4 billion in cash returns for shareholders and co-investors since its founding in 2004, turned its attention beginning in late 2007 through early 2009 to nurturing its existing investments and implementing an ‘incremental’ approach to private equity. The firm has completed 52 bolt-on acquisitions since 2004, seven of them in 2008 and the first half of 2009.

“Our modular approach to building industry platforms through flexible structures including roll-ups and greenfields allows us the freedom to buy into opportunities that play on long-term fundamentals where the upside is remarkable, but to do so without massive up-front commitments of capital,” said Abdalla ElEbiary, Managing Director at Citadel Capital, who led a round table on opportunities in Egypt.

ElEbiary pointed to the firm’s modular greenfield investments, including the National River Transport Company (NRTC) and the National River Port Management Company (NRPMC). Together, these projects will develop a comprehensive environmentally friendly transportation and logistics network using the Nile River to provide high-quality door-to-door logistics operations that link local markets to the region and the world.

“Citadel Capital invests in good ideas that hold potential to become great businesses,” ElEbiary said. “Among the many keys to balancing the risk inherent in pursuing high-upside deals such as greenfields is to be flexible, to be modular, to pursue corporate control and to be unbending on due diligence. This is how national players are turned into regional growth platforms.”

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Citadel Capital is the leading private equity firm in the Middle East and North Africa. The firm focuses on building platform investments throughout the region in select industries through acquisitions, turnarounds, and greenfields executed via Opportunity Specific Funds. Citadel Capital’s 17 OSFs now control Platform Companies with investments of more than US$ 8.3 billion in 14 industries, including mining, cement, transportation, food and energy. Since 2004, the firm has returned more than US$ 2.4 billion in cash to investors, more than any other private equity firm in the region.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Ghada Hammouda
Head of Corporate Communications,
Citadel Capital (S.A.E.)

g...@qalaaholdings.com (click to reveal this email)

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